Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Morning In Bristol County?

I have practiced law here in the State of Concrete Gardens for the better part of sixteen years. For the three years preceding my admission to the bar I attended law school - again within the cozy confines of my birth state's borders - at Seton Hall. In fact for all but four of the forty-three years that I have occupied a spot on the Big Blue Marble I have lived in the place where I was born (Figuratively speaking of course. By age 9 I would have outgrown that crib in the maternity ward at the hospital). While I went to law school to stay away from hard math, even my limited skills arithmetical can divine that for most of my life I have lived here in the Swamps of Jersey.

In spite of my lifelong allegiance to this particular patch of terra firma, this morning I shall do something that to this point in my life I have avoided through little to no effort. I shall cross the River (Raritan) to the New Brunswick side and report for jury duty as a Petit Juror. I have picked my fair share of juries in my practice. On this day I will have the chance to view life from the inside of the pet shop window as it were. While I cannot conceive of a scenario under which two or more attorneys on a civil case would pick me to be part of their case's jury - upon finding out what I do for a living (presuming none involved in the case know me or I them) - I suppose that this morning is my opportunity to serve the system that I count upon to adjudicate matters for clients when they cannot be resolved without the need of a trial.

And to reflect my level of ignorance, I had supposed that I could use today as a bit of a learning exercise - having the chance to spend time doing something that our Rules typically frown upon - talk to jurors. I had supposed that right up until the point that Margaret - who is something of an expert at being summoned for jury service - warned me that the people waiting around in the Jury Assembly Room are not to be mistaken for Michael Stipe's kind of folks. She also laughed out loud at me when I told her that I do not think that I shall tell my fellow detainees (sorry - jurors) what I do for a living so that I can try to learn a bit more than I know now about what goes through the minds of prospective jurors. The source of her humor? My supposition that anyone would actually ask me what it is I do for a living - as if anyone who is called to serve cares at all what another who is similarly situated does when he is not chilling out in the J.A.R. (Margaret also informed me that during her multiple calls to jury duty no one - not one time - has referred to the Jury Assembly Room as the "J.A.R." so I should not either. Good tip.) Until last night, Margaret only used the term "Jackass" to refer to my blockheadedness regarding my inability to follow doctor's orders. Right up until the point in time that I sprung my "Stealth Man" hypothesis on her. Apparently no one trapped in the Jury Assembly Room will give a rat's ass about the opportunity to spend a day against his or her will in the presence of a lawyer as a fellow member of the entourage.

All dressed up and no place to go? Sadly, I suppose that today I am. A lawyer with no stage. Thank God it is only for today. A boy has to eat after all.


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